All you wanted to know about Hepatitis
Created by Nishtha Dutt Updated on Jan 09, 2020
Hepatitis is an ancient Greek word that literally means ‘liver inflammation.’ In lay man’s language we know it as jaundice—a condition that is the outcome of Hepatitis C infection. Virus, alcohol, toxins, infections, obesity and autoimmune process are some cases that may cause the damage to the liver that leads to inflamed liver cells.
However, in children the major reason for Hepatitis is the virus. The five main hepatitis viruses are A, B, C, D and E. Of these, the most common are Hepatitis A, B and C. Hepatitis should be taken seriously because it directly affects liver. The infection causes severe illness which may cause liver cirrhosis, cancer and in extreme cases even death.
Importance of Liver
The liver is the largest gland and largest internal organ of our body. It consists of numerous lobules, each of them having many hepatic cells. These hepatic cells are the basic metabolic cells of the liver and assist in its functioning. The liver functions include:
- Digestion: Liver produces bile that help in digesting important nutrients including fats, protein, and minerals.
- Metabolism: The liver metabolizes the carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins into biologically useful materials to be absorbed by the cells.
- Detoxification: The liver detoxifies the blood and removes toxins from it before it reaches the body parts.
- Storage: Liver is the storage house of many essential nutrients, vitamins like A, D, E, K, and B12, minerals like iron and copper, and fatty acids. It also converts glucose into glycogen to store it.
- Production: The liver produces prothrombin, fibrinogen and albumins - vital protein components of blood plasma that helps in clot formation of blood cells and in maintaining the water level in the cells.
- Immunity: Liver functions to provide immunity to the system. It captures and digests fungi, parasites, bacteria, worn out blood cells and cellular debris.
- Any damage to liver obstructs the proper functioning of human body.
Causes of Hepatitis in Children
Viral infection is the most common cause of hepatitis in children. Children are more prone to Hepatitis A and E infections. It is caused by the ingestion of contaminated food or drinks. It also spreads by close contact with the infected person.
Hepatitis B, C and D are caused by the contact with the infected body fluids, through either blood transfusion, infected syringes, contaminated medical equipment, contact with infected person or from infected mother to infant during childbirth. Also Read Govt replacing DPT with new pentavalent vaccine .
Symptoms of Hepatitis
All types of viral hepatitis, whether it is A, B, C, D or E shows similar symptoms and can be diagnosed easily through physical examination by physicians and simple blood test. Jaundice (yellowing of eyes and skin), dark urine, grey-coloured stool, fever, extreme fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, joint and abdominal pain are the common symptoms of viral hepatitis.
Once diagnosed, Hepatitis should be treated immediately and with utmost care. No medication is available for Hepatitis virus. It is mostly treated through supportive treatment. Patients should be given boiled foods that are easy to digest. It is advisable to avoid spices and oils and take ample rest. Encourage the patient to drink lots of water, juices, lemon water with sugar, citrus fruits, and fresh homemade soups but avoid aerated drinks. Avoid contacts with persons especially with young kids, as it will infect others. Follow the doctor’s advice. It is very essential to regularly monitor the patient for signs of progressions of liver disease.
When a child is infected by Hepatitis C infection that manifests itself as jaundice, it is important to give the child lots of rest and healthy, simple food. It is advisable to give food that is light to digest and rich in nutrients such as mausambi juice, tender coconut juice, vegetable juice etc. gradually he can be moved to more substantial meals such as roti or rice. Also, as the body gets weak, let the child rest. For recreation, involve him in indoor games such as board games that will not tire him out either
Physician may administer antiviral drug if it is required.
Vaccination for Hepatitis
Prevention is always better than cure. Vaccinate your child against all Hepatitis virus types for your peace of mind.
Hepatitis A: Vaccination for Hepatitis A is recommended for every child above the age of one. To prevent the disease, even adults should get vaccinated. Two doses of vaccine are administered at a gap of 6 months.
Hepatitis B: All infants are given the vaccine at birth. However, even the older children and adults of all age can take it if it has not yet taken. Infants and children are given 3-4 doses over the period of 6-18 months depending upon the type of vaccine and schedule. Adults are given 3 doses over the period of 6 months.
Hepatitis C: There is no vaccine available for Hepatitis C.
Hepatitis can easily be prevented and it is better to get vaccinated and prevent the disease as there is no medicine available to cure it and it takes long to recover from the infection.